Duncan Watts

Principal Research Scientist


Duncan is a principal research scientist at Yahoo! Research. As director of the Human Social Dynamics group, Duncan explores the interplay between individual-level behavior (e.g. how people make decisions about what music they like, which dates to go on, or which groups to join) and the social environment in which individual behavior necessarily plays itself out.

His latest book is Everything is Obvious*: *Once You Know the Answer. Drawing on the latest scientific research, along with a wealth of historical and contemporary examples, Duncan shows how commonsense reasoning and history conspire to mislead us into thinking believing that we understand more about the world of human behavior than we do; and in turn, why attempts to predict, manage, or manipulate social and economic systems so often go awry.

An adjunct senior research fellow at Columbia University, and an external faculty member of the Santa Fe Institute and Nuffield College, Oxford, Duncan's research on social networks and collective dynamics has appeared in a wide range of journals, from Nature, Science, and Physical Review Letters to the American Journal of Sociology. He is also the author of Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age (W.W. Norton, 2003) and Small Worlds: The Dynamics of Networks between Order and Randomness (Princeton University Press, 1999). He holds a B.Sc. in Physics from the University of New South Wales, and Ph.D. in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from Cornell University.